The Clown and the Rakes—part 3


I ended part two right after addressing my middle name. I’ve started editing it to incorporate suggestions and address criticism from readers: thank you so much for the feedback! I’m saving those edits for a complete draft of The Clown and the Rakes. Today, we’re moving onto my last name… (Like all my posts thus far, this is a draft, so I especially welcome feedback, criticism, or any productive engagement…)

The Clown and the Rakes—part 3

My last name is Appa’s given name. My brother’s last name is Appa’s given name. Amma’s last name is Appa’s given name. Appa’s last name is… his given name—but his legal first name is his (and should be our) actual family name… Are you confused yet? I am, and I’m writing this darn thing about my name… Perhaps writing things out name-by-name will help:

My legal first and last names are Roybert Henanigans.
My brother’s first and last names are Brobert Henanigans.
Amma’s first and last names are Mombert Henanigans.
Appa’s legal first and last names are Dadbert Henanigans.
However, Appa’s actual last name is Dadbert and his actual given name is Henanigans… So, our “correct” names should be Roybert Dadbert, Brobert Dadbert, Mombert Dadbert, and Henanigans Dadbert.

If that still didn’t clear things up, don’t feel bad: we still screw it up… Further confusing things, my extended family (from Appa’s side) has the same problem! Appa and his brothers legally share the same first name—Dadbert, but have different last names (their actual given names)… Why? I don’t know exactly why, but I’m too curious not to ask. Given how important names are, I just needed to know—so I asked around…

I asked Amma:


It was a mix-up while filling out refugee/immigration papers. Appa was asked for his "first" and "last" names—not for "given" and "family" names; so he listed the family name first and his given name second—as he was accustomed to. Once legalized, rectifying the error proved too difficult to be worth the effort.

I asked extended family members:


It's tradition.
                 It's a Sri Lankan Tamil cultural thing.
                                               Honestly, I don't  know…
         Your dad's better suited to answering this.
                     Please don't stir things up for your entertainment…

Reasons vary from one family member to the next. It even changes based on when I ask—so the same family member might not even answer the same way (or with as much certainty) from one day to the next. All those reasons could be true; they’re highly plausible, but they might all just sound plausible while not being true. My question remains unanswered. There’s no consistency. Well, that’s not completely true. Like most things in life, there’s always an exception:

I asked Appa:


Of course, of course, it's for you kids.

He’s implying that it got us into Canada, that should be enough! Now, in addition to “why?” I also wonder “what the—?!” However, I have learned was taught not to pry further. Turns out he’s also implying that I should keep quiet and move on…

Give him some credit though, he’s consistent. Few people are that consistent; he’s kept this up for decades… That consistency defines most of our interactions:

Appa, did you hear what Amma said?!
Of course, of course, it's for you kids.
Happy Father's Day Appa!
Of course, of course, it's for you kids.
Appa, where did you leave Chokka's dried liver treats?
Of course, of course, it's for you kids.

Perhaps he’s a little too consistent… Anyway, that’s the story behind my last name. I hope that’s cleared more up for you: for me, it answered nothing, and raised more questions…

Before I wrap things up—this post is long enough—I just remembered this isn’t the most important story involving my last name. That honour goes to stories revolving around two inconvenient traits of my last name: it’s fifteen letters long, and it’s romanized awkwardly… Sorry, I don’t know why I buried the lede… *cough* I mean I know exactly why:

Of course, of course, it's for you readers.

Thank you for your time,
Roybert S. Henanigans

P.S. 96: I’ve updated my Contact Me page explaining how you can help me if you choose to. This includes a messaging form, my gmail address, my Twitter account, and a donation button to my Ko-Fi page. I’ll update specifics gradually. If there’s one thing I could ask for above all else, I’d ask for two—then I’d use one of those two to say that the best way to help is to share my work with someone.

On a serious note, thank you so much for reading—it truly means the world to me!


Published by justcallmeroybert

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